Black Swampsnake

Scientific Name
Liodytes pygaea
Also Known As
Black Swamp Snake
All of Florida, Except Near Pensacola
Small Frogs, Salamanders, and Soft-bodied Invertebrates
Life Expectancy
7 - 10 Years
The Black Swampsnake

Photo 14566697 © Nicholus ledbetter, CC BY-NC

Black Swampsnake conservation status - Least Concern

Quick Links

This Snake is Not Venomous

Black Swampsnakes in Central Florida

The black swampsnake (Liodytes pygaea) is a small, nonvenomous colubrid snake species found throughout the southeastern United States, including central Florida. Often confused with the reddish-brown Florida brown snake, the black swampsnake can be identified by its darker coloration, keeled scales, and other distinctive features.

This article provides an overview of black swampsnake biology, behavior, habitat preferences, potential risks, and prevention tips for central Florida residents who may encounter this native serpent.

Subspecies of Black Swampsnakes in the Area

Northern Florida Swampsnake

Photo 35882091 © Rebecca W, CC BY-NC

Northern Florida Swampsnake

The Northern Florida swampsnake (Pygaea pygaea) is a subspecies found only in northern Florida and southern Georgia. Genetic isolation has led to unique traits, like their reddish belly color versus yellow in other swampsnakes. They also stay smaller, around 2 feet long, and have divided anal plate scales. Living in cypress swamps and marshes, their adaptations suit the habitat.

Calling them a distinct subspecies emphasizes protecting their habitat from further drainage. Preserving remaining cypress swamps and marshes in northern Florida allows this unique subspecies to survive. Recognizing their status brings attention to protecting the small isolated populations.

Southern Florida Swampsnake

The Southern Florida swampsnake (pygaea cyclas) is a unique subspecies in southern Florida. Genetics show they diverged from other swampsnakes long ago. They stay under 2 feet long and have a yellow-orange belly unlike northern relatives. Southern swampsnakes also have divided anal plate scales. Living in marshes and swamps, they are adapted to the habitat.

Calling them a distinct subspecies stresses the need for habitat protection. Preserving remaining marshes in southern Florida is crucial for this vulnerable subspecies. Recognizing their status brings attention to safeguarding the small isolated populations and restoring lost wetlands. This allows the Southern Florida subspecies to recover.

Appearance and Identification